BOURNEMOUTH 1 READING 2 (Half Time: 1-2)
|Reading Scorers: Cureton
(3 mins), Butler (9 mins)
Bournemouth Scorers: Defoe (2 mins)
|Date: 10 April
Reading: Whitehead, Newman, Viveash, Whitbread, Robinson, Igoe (Caskey), Jones, Parkinson, McIntyre (Gurney), Butler, Cureton (Forster). Subs not used: Rougier, Howie.
Bournemouth: Stewart, Broadhurst, Howe, Fletcher C, Jorgensen
(Feeney), Hughes, Tindall (Eribenne), Defoe, Hayter, Elliott, Fletcher
Bookings: C Fletcher (Bournemouth); Parkinson, Viveash, Butler
Report by Neil Cole:
Another superb defensive display, combined with lots of good luck, gave Reading the win they needed to overtake Rotherham at last and move into second place. Bournemouth had a penalty saved by the once-again brilliant Phil Whitehead, and hit the woodwork three times as they tried to close the gap between them and the play-offs. Reading held out this time though, and our early goals from Butler and Cureton were enough to win three valuable points. The win makes the draws at Luton and Cambridge more acceptable, as nobody can really complain at taking five points from three successive away matches
All the goal action came in an incredible first ten minutes, which saw Bournemouth take the lead but then lose it within a matter of seconds. It was the Cherries' on-loan star Jermaine Defoe who gave them the lead on three minutes, after Sammy Igoe made an awful mistake. Igoe, who had retained his place at right midfield after impressing at Cambridge, sloppily gave the ball away to Defoe who had a simple finish.
Given our awful record in games where we have gone behind this season, the early goal could easily have dented the players' confidence. Fortunately though, Reading found an equaliser almost directly from the re-start, as Jamie Cureton scored his 24th of the season. The ball was worked out to Jim McIntyre on the left straight from the kick-off, who swung in a great cross that was perfect for Cureton. The Royals' top scorer doesn't miss when he gets service like that, and Cureton made no mistake in drawing the scores level.
It got even better than that for Reading, who took the lead just five minutes later. Cureton and Butler are arguably the league's best strike partnership, and they combined once again to make it 2-1 to the Royals. This time it was Cureton who put in the cross, and Butler was in the middle to score with a diving header. Our two strikers are now just four goals away from making it fifty for the season together, and with both of them in form they have a great chance of doing it.
After seeing three goals in nine minutes, the action packed opening to the game continued as Bournemouth were given a penalty five minutes after Butler's goal. Ricky Newman can't have too many complaints about the handball decision given against him, as even from the away end it looked like a penalty. Richard Hughes took the spot-kick, but he saw it brilliantly saved by Phil Whitehead in the Reading goal. It got even worse for Hughes, as he skied the rebound after Defoe had knocked it back to him. Hughes' double miss was reminiscent of the play-off final when Archie had his penalty saved and then missed an easy rebound, but this time it was the Royals who benefited.
It's hard to believe there were no more goals in the game, after such an end-to-end opening to the match. Alan Pardew continued with his tactics of all-out defence as soon as we were in the lead, and it was virtually all Bournemouth for the rest of the game. These tactics may be a good idea if it is towards the end of the match, but this time the players had to hold out for seventy minutes, and they only just managed it. Reading didn't have a notable shot on goal after Butler's goal, giving an indication of how one-sided the rest of the game was.
It's easy to say Reading were lucky to hold on for the win, but a lot of credit has to go to the back four and the keeper. Phil Whitehead was immense once again, producing a display every bit as good as his match-winning performance at Swindon. He made two fantastic stops in the second half, pushing one shot on to the post, and tipping another effort over the bar. If it hadn't been for Whitehead's display, man of the match would have gone to Adrian Whitbread, who impresses more with every game. The biggest worry is that he still isn't a technically a Reading player, so his loan move must be made permanent as soon as possible. Whatever division we are in next year, we're going to need Whitbread's presence in the back four.
Other positives to come from the game were the performances of Keith Jones and Parky in midfield, who are now producing the kind of determined and powerful football that every team needs at this time of the season. James Harper is undoubtedly a great talent, but it's going to be hard for him to win his place back in the team when he recovers. It may be worth Pardew saving him for next season, as it will be a gamble putting the relatively untried Harper back in the side at such a crucial stage of the season.
The win finally sees us move above Rotherham, and back into the top two for the first time since November. A win at home to Bury on Saturday will keep the pressure on the Millers, who are looking increasingly nervy as the title run-in progresses. What is certain is that this will be the only championship race in the country that goes to the last day, and will be the most exciting end to a Reading season in a very long time.
Post Match Opinions
I'm not sure I can last this season out much longer. Tonight just
the first fifteen minutes with three goals and a penalty save had me going.
The next seventy five minutes with Defoe and his buddies turning our defence
inside out just about finished me. Choose your comfort from the following:
it's important to grind out results like these, our luck just evened out
over the season, it's a great result against the in form side, we've now
gone 11 away games without loss. In truth, we were that close to being
beaten I do not know how we did it. Looks like the nerves of the players
and the fans are completely in harmony - stretched to near breaking point.
There is a God!
Thank God Phil Whitehead wasn't injured as was reported before the
match. Not that Scott Howie is a bad keeper, but even the Premiership's
finest would have struggled to match Phil's form. What still worries me
is why we are having to rely on his heroics to stay in matches where we
should at least be on a par with the opposition. Bournmouth won every
loose ball and ran us ragged for 75% of the match. I wonder what would
have happened if Cureton had not replied immediately to Igoe's ridiculous
early error. Defending deep, long hopeful balls, holding on for 75 minutes
of the match. Not the sign of a confident promotion chaser, is it? Still,
another win I suppose. I just hope the remaining performances don't frighten
me as much as this one did. God knows what blood pressure readings you
would have got in the away end last night!
Being a Royal in exile in Bournemouth I have been looking forward
to this clash all season. Following 2 previous postponements I was conviced
this game was never going to happen. Well, the game was certainly well
worth the wait and I must say it was one the most exciting games I have
had the plesure of watching. After the first 9 minutes I liturally couldn't
believe my eyes ! Goals flying in all over the place ! Yes, Bournemouth
were unlucky to lose, but at the end the day its down to goals and attitude
and on the day Reading got it right. No words can describe Phil Whitehead's
performance. He was simply sensational ! Jones and Igoe also had particularly
good games too. I am sure during the course of the season the Royals had
had their own fair share of bad luck, so its nice to see some luck come
our way for a change. With the end of season awards coming up it will
be interesting to see who gets player of the season in such a mermorable
season. Phil Whitehead gets my vote!
This wasn't a game for anyone wearing a pacemaker. I got there late
and missed the first 2 goals. Just as I walked in Butler nodded one in
the top corner. Then I watched us defend for the rest of the game. Those
goalposts come in useful to keep the opposition out, four times I think.
The home support did their best to indimidate us but it was more like
a creche in the home section, I felt more intimidated in mothercare. Some
do or die performances tonight from the back four, not helped by a bad
referee who gave a dreadful penalty against us. However justice was done
when Whitehead saved it. Not the most convincing win ever but 3 more valuable
Do you remember in the glorious 94/95 season when big John used to
walk around the pitch giving the thumbs up before each game towards the
end of the season? Well he nearly did it again last night, but he kept
his distance from us all, choosing to stay by the players tunnel whilst
waving etc. His charms worked, because we were lucky to win this one.
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